• Sally Smith

a simple discussion on self-care

I want to talk about self-care; knowing wholeheartedly how this word gets overplayed and overdone in the world of social media. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a totally valid and crucially important concept, but due to the excessive messages bombarding our screens out of the feeds of pop-spiritualists, many people, understandably dismiss the core of its meaning.

Self-care begins with navigating your inner, or higher Self. Although spa days and personal affirmations can and should play a role, what we’re really after is personal understanding on an everyday level; a constant, endless mediation between desires and needs. I often refer to this idea as navigating center; another term is self-awareness.

Self-awareness is the portal into personal understanding. The more we hone in on it, the more we know why we do the things we do; our thoughts, reactions, beliefs, and tendencies. Center comes into play when we get thrown off course, which for me, happens about twenty times in the course of one day, varying from minute issues such as fumbling through basic routine to the more overt situations where someone I’m interacting with calls my character into judgement. Center is joyful; contentedness is its characteristic. When we lose that feeling, we’re knocked off course. In navigating center, we find our way back to that joyful state of being. Self-understanding is the roadmap; the route of return.

It’s easier to find your way back home when you know how you got there: when emotions throw you off, use pragmatism to return home. When you get stuck in a depressed mood, let the element of excitement bring you forward. When you’re blind-sighted completely and you don’t understand how or why you got to where you are, put in the effort and thought into reorienting yourself; look in every direction, uncover information, and retrace your steps.

Self-care is creating an easeful existence and that ease comes from knowing your needs and then setting out to attain them. Sometimes, your needs require you to sit and zone out to Bachelor in Paradise after a crazy day of mental stimulation. Other times, your needs require you to go on a rage-fueled run to sweat out stagnant emotions that have been weighing you down. Quite literally, eat a massive, delicious meal; fast for a day; cancel plans and be a hermit; plan a night out to foster connection; stand up for yourself; know when to surrender; do absolutely nothing; run yourself into the ground -- it all depends on where you are.

Once you step back to really take a look at it all, you’ll notice the pattern. I’ve found that my needs shift in stages. I’ll go through phases of intense inward introspection followed by a period of activity and expansiveness: yin and yang. I, personally, wax and wane. When I know what phase I am in, whether it is over the course of one day or the entirety of a year, I can validate myself more easily. There isn’t any guilt. Guilt is something that I think we all struggle with immensely. It’s okay to sit back and do nothing when you believe that your circumstances permit it. Guilt, however, can also be a valuable tool for knowing when your needs require productivity, but definitely practice distinguishing the difference.

Like anything and everything else, it’s a balancing act. It’s tipping the scale in one direction to achieve a desired result, and then retracing your steps to balance back out. The goal is to maintain this certain type of awareness so that it is able to penetrate and underpin everyday thought and ultimately cultivate new conscious wavelengths. It will take a lifetime of practice. The hardest part for us is going to be recognition. Try to acknowledge as early as you can when you get thrown off course. Like a strong wind caught in your sails, the longer you let it push you along without a course correction, the further off route you’ll be dragged and the harder it will be to return. So when a person, a situation, a thought, or an emotion knocks you around, catch it early. Then, remedy the situation; how, who or what will guide you back? The more you practice this, the more certain remedies will become cure-alls. Overtime you will simplify. The more you know yourself, the less upkeep it takes to stay sane. Sanity is a Self that is well in tune; simplistic in nature, because it has only one need: balance.